This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Saturday Rave: Basic Engly Twenty Fido by Stanley Unwin.

How much do you understand?

No, really. How much do you really understand?

You can understand every single word in a book or a speech - and even every single sentence - and sometimes you can still come away none the wiser. Can't you?

"Professor" Stanley Unwin, on the other hand, used words that no one had ever heard before (basically because he'd made them up) and still managed to give people the feeling they understood, or were on the point of understanding, what he was saying.

Unwin made up Basic Engly Twenty Fido to enliven the stories he told his children.

(This means he's a hero and a definite good guy as far as The Word Den is concerned.)

Unwin was a radio technician who was heard using his personal nonsense language, Basic Engly Twenty Fido, during sound tests, and encouraged to turn it into an act.

He was the least glamorous of entertainers, but that didn't stop him reaching number 1 in the UK Albums Chart narrating "Happiness Stan" on the Small Faces' album Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake.

Unwin also collaborated with British dance music act Wubble-U on their single "Petal", and made an appearance in the Aardman Animations series Rex the Runt, in this case as an accountant.

It's clever stuff, Basic Engly Twenty Fido (also known as Unwinese). Unwin exploits brilliantly the suspension of understanding that every language requires.

The shape, which was so strangely...

See? All those words, and you've no idea what they're about yet.

Here is Stanley Unwin explaining a gadget:

And this was the farewell read out at Unwin's funeral:

"Goodly Byelode loyal peeploders! Now all gatherymost to amuse it and have a tilty elbow or a nice cuffle-oteedee – Oh Yes!"

I doubt we'll see his like again.

Thing To Use Today: a piece of your own personal nonsense: darkly short clocks snowlodes and if not then whoopsy brollies upsy-downsy splish slosh.
Deep joy!


  1. Wellish, how deeplingly diddly-delightingful!
    I hazzy a tilty elbow nowly, and upendeth my gronk to the Prof!

    1. My niece coined 'schwibby' when she was very young. You could be schwibby, and it evolved into a noun so that you were being a schwib, and if you were presently being a schwib you were said to be schwibbing.

    2. Your niece sounds a child of rare and marvellous intellect. But what's a schwib?

  2. Much thankee. Ambrosilies definotes!

  3. What a lodimost of follocking bollockits
    and cobblerodes!! Should nokkers be allowedy!

    1. Much joydies, but no forgetties the teeny childoes in The Word Denodes, Tristan.

  4. It all started when mum fallolopped on her kneeclappers ;)

    1. Trusty Mumiloes bouncy bouncy bright as a butty soonodes, Sandy.